Occasional food cravings are something we all have in common. Some food cravings are caused by nutritional deficiencies, but others originate for more complicated reasons. Luckily, regardless of the cause, most cravings can be reduced. While certain sources of food cravings can be difficult to pinpoint, some very common food cravings have pretty surprising sources and solutions.
You Might Need To Balance Your Blood Sugar
When you’re reaching for cookies or ice cream, a lack of energy may be the problem. When your blood sugar levels take a dip, sugar cravings are extremely common. Though it might feel good in the moment, snacking on sugar will actually cause your blood sugar levels to spike. When your blood sugar levels fall shortly after, you’ll find yourself craving sweets all over again. Try snacking on some healthy complex carbohydrates or protein instead. Protein and healthy carbs (like whole grains and starchy vegetables) are digested slowly, so your blood sugar levels will stabilize, rather than being a roller coaster.
You Might Need To Hydrate
If you’re craving salty things, your body may need more water. When you’re dehydrated, you usually are low in electrolytes as well. Electrolytes are minerals our body uses to absorb water, some of which are found in salt. Drink a glass of water next time you feel a salty food craving coming on, and your problem may be solved.
You Might Need A Checkup
Chronic salty food cravings can also be an indication of certain health complications. Addison’s disease and several different adrenal conditions are all preceded by salt cravings in some patients. If you’re having chronic salty food cravings, it might be time to for a quick checkup.
You Might Need Endorphins
A craving specifically for chocolate is sometimes your brains way of saying you’re low in feel-good chemicals. Endorphins are one such chemical released by the brain. A powerful boost for your mood, endorphins are also released when you eat chocolate, but also flood the system during sleep and exercise. Try taking a quick nap, or going for a run next time you can’t shake the chocolate cravings.
You Might Be Stressed Out
Another source of craving salty foods could be your mood. If you’re feeling stressed out or more anxious than usual, your adrenal glands are working overtime. Adrenal glands manage our stress responses, releasing hormones when we’re in a fight or flight state. Being angry or too stressed can essentially tire out your adrenal glands, causing an increase in salty food cravings. If this is the case, try blowing off some steam before you reach for salty snacks.
You Might Be A Thrill Seeker
Believe it or not, even your personality can influence your cravings. If you’re the type of person who likes excitement, craving spicy foods might be common. Several studies have shown that strong cravings for spicy foods may be a sign your body is craving sensation. Try doing a few things out of the ordinary when you can’t get enough spice.
You Might Need To Change Your Habits
A lot of cravings are caused by habits and how you usually eat. For example, overindulging in salty foods on a regular basis will cause your body to crave more salty things. Similarly, habitually consuming refined sugar and fake sweeteners will trigger increased sugar cravings in the future. Fight these sources of food cravings by eating a diet full of variety and healthy sources of sugar and complex carbs.
You Might Need More Sleep
A recent study from UC Berkeley found a fairly direct link between lack of sleep and junk food cravings. By studying the way the brain becomes impaired by sleep deprivation, the study found that higher brain function was blunted, while functions like desire and motivation were amplified. This may lead to the participants preference for salty, fat laden junk food while sleep deprived.
You Might Be Too Strict With Your Diet
If you’re on a diet, make sure you let yourself occasionally snack on sweet and salty foods. Measured indulgences can help stave off sudden, overpowering cravings for junk food. Especially if you’ve eliminated carbs and sweets, small portions of junk food can help avoid self-inducing a nutritional deficiency. Being overly restrictive with what you eat can end up causing more cravings than you need to deal with.
You Might Have Natural Cravings
If you’re a lady fighting food cravings, you should keep in mind your monthly cycle. Unfortunately, cramps and bloating aren’t the only friends Mother Nature brings with her to visit. If it’s that time of the month, you’re likely to experience increased food cravings. Part of these cravings may come from your body’s increased need for energy, but also may be related to a monthly lack of serotonin. Eating an extra serving or so of carbs each day of your period will help boost serotonin, plus provides extra energy your body needs.
You Will Have Extra Cravings If You’re Pregnant
Additionally, if you’re pregnant, don’t forget that seemingly extreme food cravings will be a usual occurrence. there’s no need to panic however, the cravings you’re experiencing will fluctuate with the nutritional needs of your baby. In some circumstances, you may experience cravings for non edible items like chalk or dirt. This phenomenon is known as Pica, and tends to only occur in pregnant women. If your cravings are stretching beyond your kitchen table you might be one of them. If you think this might be the case, it’s a good idea to mention your cravings to a Dr.
Cravings come in all varieties, but many solutions exist. Getting to the root of your craving will undoubtedly help you fight it. Don’t forget to give yourself a little bit of leeway in your daily diet. By listening to your body, and treating yourself well, you can become the master of your cravings.
Featured photo credit: reynermedia via flickr.com